Italian children were once told a story about a village with a pond of water lilies floating on the surface. Every day the villagers were boating, fishing and leisurely strolling around its borders. At first the lilies in the pond seemed small and so day after day the villagers decided to leave them to grow doing nothing until one day the water lilies covered half of the pond. So they decided to cut them back and bring the beautiful, fragrant white flowers into their homes to enjoy.
Like the village with the lily pond there is a hidden reward in the routine of everyday living that you may be able to take advantage of to travel to Italy. Every day you’ve been wishing and hoping to find a way to make your dream trip to Italy come true. You’ve being saving up but the daily expenses of life always seem to keep you from relaxing under the Tuscan sun. Well let me tell you that in over 15 years of traveling to Italy, I never have once paid full fare for an airline ticket and neither should you and it’s all because of the expenses of everyday living.
If you eat, breathe and exist in the world there are perks to be had and one of these is earned airline miles. You can get a reduced fare or even a free ticket to see and savor Italy by doing no more or no less than what you do in the course of everyday life. You buy groceries, gas for your car, go out to lunch, dinner, buy a gift for your mom’s birthday etc. You can use the dollars you’ve already spent to leverage your purchase of an airline ticket and suddenly the price is right for your dream trip to Italy.
According to Inside Flyer magazine, there are more than 35 credit cards that offer earned airline miles and they in turn are linked to over 90 partners; companies that allow you to apply miles when you purchase from them. I know that conventional wisdom is to cut the plastic and follow the disciples of Dave Ramsey and I agree that rewards should be deferred for those attending the Financial Peace University. I also believe that paying for a free airline ticket by using credit card rewards is not for everyone. Ramsay characterizing credit card rewards as “brownie points, cites the following statistic from Consumer Reports – 78% of all credit card airline miles are never redeemed. Che peccato! It is like turning your back on the law of attraction. If you are not willing to potentiate the use of a credit card then by all means do not use a credit card for any purpose.
However if you are willing to think about using your credit cards not as a substitute for cash but as an alternative form of payment and you have the discipline and financial responsibility needed to pay off your balance each month you can use the plastic in your pocket to can get a measurable return on your investment and achieve your travel goals.
Here are a few things savvy travelers consider to see and savor Italy using earned credit card points.
- Before signing up for an air mile credit card, be sure to study the details. Where can you fly with your air miles? Will they take you to your dream destination? People have earned thousands of miles on a card only to learn it won’t take them to the place they want to go most
- Miles on generic cards may not be good for international destinations. Be sure to check this out, especially if you have your heart set on a free trip to Italy ( I use earned airline miles from my AMEX Gold Card to fly Swiss Air to Milan)
- Many cards require an advance notice with trip vouchers sent in the mail so be sure to plan ahead
- Be prepared to pay off your credit card charges as they become due. Many air mile credit cards tend to have higher-than-average interest rates. There is absolutely no reward to incur additional debt
- Do not use credit cards to substitute for money you don’t have. Look at your financial situation. If you are not spending enough money on personal and/or business expenses to qualify for free earned travel miles the price will never be right